Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Miso-Making Workshop in San Francisco!

I am currently based in San Francisco, which is filled with foodies!  I have been pleasantly surprised to find that so many people are open to new kinds of food, even if sometimes it sounds a little strange at the first encounter.  Also, they are very much conscious about the impact that fresh food gives to people in the body and the heart.

My friend, Mariko, runs the company, Aeden which makes the Japanese fermented foods from fresh organic ingredients.  As I introduced the Japanese fermented foods and the power of Koji in my last blog, Miso is such a nutritious superfood.  But the fresher the ingredients are, the more nutrition and energy you get from these active fungus.

There was a Miso-making workshop by her at 18 Reasons the other day.  All the tickets were sold out and there are many curious San Franciscans who came to try their first hand-made Miso-making.

The ingredients of Miso is simple; cooked soybeans, rice Koji and salt.  You mash the soybeans and mix it with Koji and salt.  The key to make good Miso is to exclude air from the mixture and keep the container air free.  Simple recipe, but requires that you put your heart into it.

The rest of work is left to Koji, and your work is to wait at least for 6 months!

Mariko's miso has great flavor.  It is because she takes care of her products with love, and only makes a small batch at a time to keep the quality.  You can check more details on her site here.
Have a healthy happy life feeling the genuine power of food!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Secret of Japanese Fermented Foods

Fermented foods - I hear the word very often these days.  When you look into recipes of Japanese cooking, the ingredients are quite simple.  They are often combination of soy sauce, miso, sake, mirin, sugar, vinegar and salt.  Except salt, they are all fermented foods.  By these magical sauce and paste, varieties of delicious Japanese meals are made, as they draw out the best flavor of vegetables, fish and meat, and create rich flavorful taste.

So, what are Japanese fermented foods?  How are they made?  What's the secret of its taste?

Miso is one of the most common Japanese food known all over the world.  It is made from soy beans, koji and salt, and it is fermented for at least 6 months.

Koji is a starter and key ingredients to make all of the Japanese fermented foods.  It is a culture made by growing fungus on cooked rice and becomes rice koji moulds.  Fermented foods are made by breaking down these moulds.  This is the mother of all tastes of Japanese meals.

Koji is an active enzyme that breaks the protein into amino acids, that is known as 'umami', a rich tasteful flavor, and the starch is turned into glucose, which creates natural sweetness.
Miso and other koji products are regarded as superfoods and high in nutrition.  They are delicious and stay fresh for a long time.

These fermented foods have a long history, going back thousands of years.  Before the civilization understood the microorganism, the ancient people already knew the way of using it and bringing out the best flavor and nutrition from foods.  It is wisdom that we have inherited over centuries. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Serving Somen in Magewappa

Magewappa Bento Box can be used for taking noodles or pasta to lunch.  This Magewappa Maru Round box is one of the smallest size of our Magewappa series, but it can contain more food than you might think.  This was my to-go lunch box when I worked in Tokyo.  Today, I'd like to introduce a recipe using the Japanese noodle, somen.

Somen is one of the many types of Japanese noodles; it is made from wheat and it is commonly eaten in summer time, often in cold dishes.  It is thinner than Udon or Spaghetti, less than 1.3 mm, similar to rice vermicelli.  It takes less time to cook, so is nice to cook in summer time when you don't want to spend a lot of time around the heat.  If you cannot find somen, there are some thin types of Udon and these would work for this recipe as well.

Today's bento lunch menu is:

- Somen noodle marinated with chicken breast and cucumber in sesame sauce
- Omelette with green onion


Somen (70g)
Chicken breast (50g)
Cucumber 1/2
Sesame seeds 1tbsp (15g)
Salt 1/2 tsp (2.5g)
Soy sauce 1tbsp (15g)
Sesame oil 1tbsp (15g)

1. Add somen to boiling water for 3 - 5 min, or follow the suggested cooking time of whatever noodles you buy.  Drain the water in a strainer and cool the noodles down by dipping in a cold water.

Once it's cool, drain the cold water and marinate it with sesame oil to avoid the noodles sticking together.

2. Boil the chicken breast and split it into small pieces.

3. Chop cucumber and rub with a little bit of salt to drain water from cucumber.  (this salt is not included in the ingredients above)  

4. Marinate somen, chicken, and cucumber with all the other ingredients in a bowl.

Sesame oil and sesame seeds add the rich flavor on the simple ingredients, yum!
The recipe and photos are from my friend, Nao Kondo, who is a photographer and a food blogger.  You can check her other recipes on her blog, magewappana-hibi.